Pioli confirms Tomori’s return, addresses ‘5-0-5’ criticism and talks selection dilemmas

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has confirmed that Fikayo Tomori will return to the squad, while he spoke about his side’s defensive phase and the criticisms they have faced.

Milan’s 1-1 draw against Atalanta at San Siro on Sunday removed some of the pressure from a table standpoint as they kept a seven point gap to their Lombardy neighbours, and they did so with a dominant performance in which they should have won.

However, that failure to get over the line means that the winless run is now at three games following the defeats against Monza in the league (4-2) and Stade Rennais in the Europa League (3-2), all while Bologna continue to close the gap.

The Scudetto is now out of reach, but Milan have a duty to finish the season strong and to try and snatch second from Juventus, above all so they can secure a Champions League spot with minimal fuss compared to last season and 2020-21.

Pioli spoke to reporters on the eve of the trip to face Lazio – a game that Milan lost 4-0 in last season as part of the January 2023 crisis – and the comments from his press conference were relayed by MilanNews.

What kind of a week has it been?

“We want to put Sunday’s performance back on the pitch, but obtain a different result.”

Did you speak to Leao after his great performance against Atalanta?

“He told me he was fine. I told him to always feel good.”

What kind of game will it be tomorrow?

“Lazio have great quality and they come from a defeat. They will be motivated, they play well, but we can put them in difficulty by playing with intensity.”

Is the Scudetto race over?

“For first place, I think so. Inter are having an incredible season and they’ve had a difficult calendar, in which they’ve won everything: having overcome that path in such a clear way, I think it’s over.”

Inter could win the Scudetto in the derby…

“You are phenomenal at wasting energy for distant things. April 21st is still a long time away. We only have to think about tomorrow. At the break we will take stock.”

Why didn’t you win against Atalanta?

“We analysed the positive things and also those situations that didn’t allow us to win. Why didn’t we win? We didn’t manage to score an extra goal and we had the chances.”

What is needed for the Champions League places?

“Allegri is good at these things and said that 70 points are needed. There is still a long way to go.”

Are you studying Slavia Praha?

“Yes, but we’re only thinking about Lazio. There’s no need to rest anyone ahead of Thursday, there’s still time. We’ve recovered many players. There will be a lot of games going on soon and we need everyone.”

You are often criticised on social media even if you play well…

“I’m not on social media. Criticism is there and will always be there. We still have important objectives, I’m focused on these things. I’m happy and proud to coach here, in my opinion we’re doing a very good job.”

Who do you compare Inter this year to?

“Napoli produced incredible numbers last year and Inter are doing so too. They have only lost once, they are having an above-and-beyond season.”

Is there an refereeing problem for Milan?

“No. The referees are trying to do the best they can, there is no bad faith towards us. In some incidents there is luck, in others there is none.”

Do you need to do better in away games?

“Yes, we need to improve our numbers away from home. We always try to play the game and we will have to do so again tomorrow against a quality opponent. We will need attention and consistency.”

Spalletti gave you some compliments

“I’ve always agreed with him (smiles). It’s always nice to receive compliments from other coaches. We spoke a couple of weeks ago to find out the training programme… he’s a colleague who deservedly coaches the national team.”

Is Florenzi giving you a tough decision at right-back?

“Calabria is doing well. Florenzi’s performances are important. Whoever plays will do well, and whoever doesn’t play will be ready to come on.”

How is Reijnders?

“For me he is a great player. Against Atalanta I chose Adli for the positions he takes in the defensive phase. Yesterday Reijnders didn’t train due to the birth of his son. I wish him well.”

Has Leao grown up a lot off the field?

“His growth is exponential in his relationships with the team and with his work. Many things are asked of 18-19 year old players and you have to mature quickly, but then everyone has their own path.”

Did you remember last year’s 4-0 defeat away at Lazio?

“There’s no need to remind me, these are things that stay inside.”

Will Tomori be called up?


Fans complain about a big gap in the middle of the pitch, calling it a 5-0-5 formation…

“You attack and defend together. If it becomes a 7-0-3 or a 5-0-5 it’s still wrong, so it means I don’t know how to coach.”

What type of game will it be tomorrow?

“Both teams will try to play the game with different principles. We have the quality to make them run and try to create numerical superiority in some areas of the pitch.” 

Who will mark Luis Alberto tomorrow?

“Against Lazio we play against a strong, quality midfield. The duels in that area of ​​the pitch will be important.” 

Playing well and not winning like against Atalanta, how do you fix that?

“We need to underline the positive things and understand why we didn’t win. By playing like this you have a better chance of winning.” 


Tags AC Milan Lazio Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. “You attack and defend together. If it becomes a 7-0-3 or a 5-0-5 it’s still wrong, so it means I don’t know how to coach.”

    Lol, he said it, not us.

  2. “Why didn’t you win against Atalanta?”

    There was a d*ck running around the pitch in a fluorescent shirt who decided Atalanta should be given a free goal.

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